Most pretrial hearings in criminal court result in a continuance. This is when both the defense attorney and the prosecutor agree to reschedule the hearing for a later date.

If the defendant is in jail while the proceedings are pending, the court will schedule a new date within the next 30 days, unless the defense attorney asks for additional time.

However, if the defendant is not detained, the next court date will usually be in 60 days.

These delays can cause a case to drag on for years, leaving defendants in a state of limbo.

So what causes the need for so many continuances?

Probably the number one reason for trial delays is discovery. After arraignment and before the first pretrial hearing, the defense counsel will ask the prosecutor for all mandatory discovery. This typically includes police videos (body cam, cruiser cam, or both), 911 calls, or anything else required until Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Regardless of the discovery status, a defendant has the right to settle the matter through a plea deal if he believes that promptly resolving the case is in his best interest.